play / 2015

LOS ANGELES AUDUBON - Urban Nature Explored and Expressed

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Los Angeles Audubon Society

Urban Nature Explored - To engage urban youth and their communities in the great outdoors through environmental stewardship via our on-going nature programs that are improving acres of parkland and re-imagining schoolyards as nature-filled learning centers. Urban Nature Expressed - To provide an artistic platform and Pop-Up gallery for under-served youth to showcase their interpretations of urban nature in LA, where students interact with the public.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • South LA
  • Westside
  • Ballona Wetlands, Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park, Kenneth Hahn State Rec.Area, Venice & Dockweiler Beach, Esperanza Elementary School, and other schools within LAUSD, and Venice Arts.

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Conduct research
  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Implement a pilot or new project
  • Expand a pilot or a program

How will your proposal improve the following “Play” metrics?

  • Access to open space and park facilities
  • Number of children enrolled in afterschool programs
  • Number of residents with easy access to a “vibrant” park (Dream Metric)
  • Number of parks with intergenerational play opportunities (Dream Metric)
  • Number (and quality) of informal spaces for play (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to play.

URBAN NATURE EXPLORED: LAAS will engage the public, students, teachers, and community volunteers in nature activities, field trips, and after-school programs at parks, beaches and open spaces at these locations:

Ballona Wetlands Open House On The Wetlands welcomes people of all ages to explore one of the last remaining coastal wetlands. Our school field trip program brings thousands of students and teachers to view the wetlands up-close through microscope samples, and binoculars, witnessing birds and wildlife that utilize the wetlands.

Kenneth Hahn State Rec.Area Elementary and middle school students participate in experiential science-based activities, including exploration of geology, soil, plant life, local wildlife habitat and a good dose of exercise.

Beaches Hundreds of volunteers and students help to conserve shorebird habitat on beaches in LA County. Serving 400+ students, the program explores ecology and stewardship along a coastline visited by millions of people each year.

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook LAAS’ after-school internship program teams high school students with biologists and restoration ecologists to actively engage in and improve their communities. Students are introduced to the science of habitat restoration ecology through site-specific work and field trips, learning first-hand about managing natural habitat within urban areas. Students will then lead hundreds of community volunteers in restoration work, planting native coastal sage scrub at Baldwin Hills, and restoring beach habitat at Venice Beach. The restoration work is aimed at creating a healthy, clean and safe environment where people and wildlife can thrive.

Schoolyard Habitat Building on their knowledge from the Environmental Leadership program, students will assist LAAS College Fellows, LAAS restoration ecologists and community volunteers to implement a new schoolyard habitat at Esperanza Elementary. The goal of this project is to create a healthier schoolyard environment where students can play; and turn a once degraded area into a thriving nature-filled space that attracts insects, pollinators, birds, and lizards, that children and teachers can observe, utilizing the habitat as an outdoor learning center. Habitat plans have been approved by LAUSD officials. The Esperanza Schoolyard Habitat will be the second project of its kind for LAAS and students.

URBAN NATURE EXPRESSED: Collaboration with Venice Arts (described in partnership section below)

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

We track student attendance/hours engaged in all of our programs. We also ask students and teachers to fill out 1-2 surveys about their experience in the programs. The majority of high school students respond that they learned new things about their local green spaces, and that being in the program helped shape a new interest in environmental careers or ways to integrate environmental awareness into a non-science career interest. Students often describe the program as helpful academically, socially, and emotionally. Because our outdoor programs reach youth of all ages, elementary through high school, many of our students will have been exposed to the wide range of biodiversity found in LA, and as alumni, they continue to participate in LAAS programs after graduation. We also measure our success by the number of community volunteers we engage, and acres of restored parklands and beaches that are restored (amount of trash and weeds removed and the number of native plants planted.)

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
  • Education/training
  • Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support
  • Quality improvement research